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By Barry Boyce,
CyclingRevealed
Historian



 

Top 20 All Time Major Classics #10

Milan-San Remo 1910: Four Survive the Ordeal!

CR Timeline 1910

Sunday April 3, 1910- 71 riders came to the start line for the 4 th edition of Milan-San Remo . Prior to the start riders were concerned about the predicted snow storm on the Turchino Pass. Would the race be postponed? No, the race organizers would not consider it and the race left Milan in nasty conditions with rain and bitter cold temperature. The roads were muddy and frozen; riders bounced from rut to rut trying to find a good patch of road.

In spite of the treacherous roads the pace of the race was quick as riders competed for premes (cash prizes) through the small towns along the flat plains of Lombardia. But the weather conditions were growing worse as the riders approached the Turchino Pass.

*Race profile courtesy of Internet site: www.econ-outlook.com.au/tom/cycling/palmares.html

The clouds were low and the bite of the frigid temperature seemed to be taking its toll. When the reduced lead group got to the notorious Turchino Pass defending champion Luigi Ganna broke away. Frenchmen Eugene Christophe bridged the gap and easily passed the fading Italian. The snow was beginning to accumulate and the already hazardous roads became dangerous. At one point on the climb a race official's car became stuck in the snow. Near the summit of the climb Christophe dismounted to regain the feeling in his frigid hands and numb feet. He continued to run up the mountain using his cyclo-cross training but individual riders were passing him.

Over the summit riders began to abandon in large numbers. Christophe was six minutes behind the leader with 8 inches of snow covering the descent of the Turchino. The temperatures were dropping and the snow continued to fall on the way down. The beauty of the snow covered mountain belayed the physical problems that Christophe was having. Stomach cramps stopped the Frenchman as he collapsed on the side of the road.

Driven by a competitive fire Christophe could only think of San Remo and the finish line. Danger was entering his situation, when frozen and barely moving Christophe tried to reach a nearby house for shelter… but couldn't. An elderly Italian came to the rescue and helped the Frenchman into a small Inn . Warm blankets and hot water along with a few exercises return the feeling to his body. Slowly recovering Christophe tried to continue the race but the innkeeper pointed to snow falling outside and strongly advised his against it.

One by one four riders passed the Inn when a nervous Christophe made the decision to continue. “ You're crazy !” said others at the Inn but he remounted and pressed on. He quickly caught Giovanni Cochi and Eberardo Pavesi. By the control station (feed zone) at Savona Ganna was caught. With 100 km to go only Pierino Albini remained in front. Team manager Alphonse Bauge told Christophe he could win the race. The Frenchman felt a renewed strength as he passed Albini several kilometers later.

Into the outskirts of San Remo , a ‘surge of energy ' put a spring back in Christophe's legs. At 6 pm that night after nearly 12 1/2 hours of racing Eugene Christophe crossed the finish line for the victory. Defending champion Luigi Ganna crossed the finish line second but was disqualified for taking a ride in a car. The third finisher Giovanni Cochi was awarded the official second place. Of the 71 starters in Milan only 4 competitors successfully finished the race in San Remo .

After his victory Eugene Christophe was taken by ambulance to the hospital where he remained for a month before recovering full use of his arms and legs. This “Day of Hell” had taken its toll on all.

 

M-SR April 3, 1910
289 Km

1. Eugene CHRISTOPHE (Fra) 12h24'35"

2. Giovanni Cocchi (Ita) +1h01'

3. Giovanni Marchese (Ita) +1h17'

4. Enrico Sala (Ita) +2h06'
Starters: 71
Finishers: 4 *
Average Speed: 23.314 km/h

 

 

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